25 April 2001
MPs vote against biofuel amendment

By Charles Abel, arable and technical editor

BIOFUEL hopes have suffered a blow after Labour MPs voted down an amendment to the Finance Bill calling for a cut in duty on bio-diesel.

The amendment had called for duty on oilseed rape-based biodiesel to be cut by 33p/litre, instead of the 20p/litre proposed in the Budget.

It was brought by Alan Beith, Lib-Dem MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed (north).

The campaigning stance of Farmers Weekly on the issue was mentioned repeatedly during the debate late on Tuesday (24 April).

But despite significant backing from Conservative and Lib-Dem MPs the amendment failed by 162 votes to 286.

The amendment was supported by the National Farmers Union and the British Association for Bio Fuels and Oils (BABFO).

BABFO chairman Peter Clery vowed to maintain the battle to secure a future for biodiesel as an alternative crop market for beleaguered UK farmers.

Fewer than five labour MPs witnessed the debate, he said. But many more attended the vote to ensure that the amendment failed.

A win would have enabled an immediate start to a British biodiesel industry for road transport, maintained Mr Clery.

Oilseed rape production could have jumped 0.5m ha with growers receiving 150/t for rapeseed destined for that market, he claimed

We never thought Labour would capitulate. But the debate demonstrated there are major misunderstandings which BABFO will set about correcting.

Government is still receiving completely “duff advice” on biodiesel claimed Mr Clery.

It is another missed opportunity which rubs salt in the wound of the administrative muddle under which the farming industry has to live.

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